Below is a letter regarding the interstate speeds in Vermont, but the
principles apply to lower speed roads also. Simply, speed
kills--increasingly bicyclists and pedestrians (except on rural interstates
where death rates continue abnormally high).
A letter with minor differences went to the New York Times which ran the
same story, also on the front page, the same day.
January 1, 2000
The Times Argus
Barre, Vermont 05641
"More and More, we're going faster and faster" (Times Argus, December 27)
ignores overwhelming evidence that increasing speed limits on our rural
interstates raised both fatalities and fatality rates,
The federal government allowed states in 1988 to set higher speeds on
rural interstates, and these roads became a testing ground for the impacts of
increased speeds on safety. True, overall safety per mile driven increased
in recent years--but not on rural interstates. Overwhelming evidence in
studies by the Boston University School of Public Health and the Insurance
Institute for Highway Safety, among others, revealed increased fatality rates
and fatalities on rural interstates throughout the nation when speed limits
Here in Vermont with all but 34 interstate miles rural, post-1988
fatality rates are up 36% and deaths doubled while fatality rates declined
35% on all other Vermont roads. Seven deaths a year or 7% of the State's
about 100 annual highway fatalities relate directly to the 55 mph to 65 mph
speed limit increase. It used to be that the Vermont interstate highways
boasted a fatality rate of just a third of other highways-- now from the
safety standpoint, the interstates is just another road.
Forgetting energy waste, pollution and global warming gases driver
stress, and vehicle wear and tear--increasing speed limits above 55 mph kills
and injures thousands in this nation each year. Increasing speeds on our
interstates and freeways contributes to our losing our long term second place
in safety (the UK is first) as other Western European countries are gaining
and passing the US in overall highway safety.
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